Clear encroachments before 2015 Nashik Kumbh Mela: Seer group

Nashik (Maharashtra), A seers' group Tuesday warned the city administration of cancelling the Simhastha Kumbh Mela scheduled for July-September 2015 if encroachments are not razed and the Godavari river freed of pollutants.

Gyandas Maharaj, president of the All India Akhada Parishad, arrived here Monday to take stock of the preparations for next year's biggest religious congregation.

After visiting some of the locations here Tuesday, he said at a media interaction that unlike the last Kumbh Mela held here in 2003, the various routes to the 'shahi snaan' (ritual dip) sites were blocked by encroachments that must be removed.

Besides, the holy Godavari river was heavily polluted with many sewer lines leading to its waters, which would pose difficulties during the festival, he said.

"The authorities must ensure that all encroachments are removed and the holy river is cleaned up before the Kumbh Mela... or else, there is no need to conduct the Kumbh Mela," Gyandas Maharaj said.

He said that compared to 2003, the number of sadhus taking part would be five times more next year.

However, the areas reserved for their stay and religious ceremonies in Tapovan area have been encroached upon, due to the negligence of the local authorities.

Alarmed by the assertions, Nashik Mayor Yatin Wagh assured that measures would be taken to comply with the demands, to ensure a smooth Kumbh Mela next year.

Preparations are underway on a war footing for the Kumbh Mela, scheduled to be held here July 14-Sep 25, 2015, with the 'shahi snaan' dates on Aug 29, Sep 13 and Sep 25.

More than 10 million pilgrims from India, besides a large number of people from around the world, shall join the once-in-12-years religious gathering - also held at different times in Haridwar, Ujjain and Allahabad.

The Maharashtra government has allocated a budget of Rs.2,400 crore for the event to create better infrastructure, accommodation, beautifying the city and surroundings, medical facilities, security and other requirements.

The existing facilities at nearby major pilgrim destinations like Trimbakeshwar, Shirdi, Shani Shingnapure shall also be improved as most pilgrims visit these places.

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